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Single Living

I’ve had crying kids lost in stores cling to my hand, children at Mass giggle at me over Mommy’s shoulder, and every once in awhile a child in a crowd spontaneously comes up and hugs me.

Kids love me. I love children.

And quite honestly, I thought I would have children by now.

As a child and teenager I dreamed of being a mother. I wanted one of those wonderfully domestic scenes of a large dinner table with a lazy Susan in the middle with hands of all kinds reaching in – boys and girls, biological and adopted children, foster children, and even foreign exchange students. I babysat all the time. When it came to choosing a career I knew I wanted to be a teacher—the perfect career for a woman who wanted to have a family.

Somewhere along the line I shed that dream.

At times it was a conscious decision; other times not. I think I just gave it up as it became apparent that the dream wasn’t going to happen. Part of me reasoned that it was pointless to dream of kids without my husband in the picture — a kind of putting the cart before the horse.

Two decades have sped by and I find that thousands of children have sat at desks in front of me in my classroom, but none sit at my dining room table.

Last spring, in the middle of Lent, I turned 40. Forty, single and childless. The desert of Lent seemed fitting, and, yet, I wasn’t depressed about it. I wrote about it on CatholicMatch with hope and youthfulness.

During the course of that Lent, God showed me how He had fulfilled so much of my dream through the thousands of students I had taught over the course of 18 years of teaching in Catholic schools. He would not have given me that gift if I had had my own household brood.

 

Motherhood eluded

Still, I miss family life and I do not like living alone. No more transient roommates for me, as they are not at all the same as family who grow together. My next roommate will be my husband.

In May I learned that I was the victim of the budget cuts at my school. For the first time since I was 5 I would not be preparing for a school year. No more kids. And no prospect for a husband in sight.

Who knows if I am even able to have children  now or ever.

Still, many of the single men I encounter have high on their list the need to have biological children. When I see that requirement on their profiles or hear them speak eagerly about opportunities to play catch with a little boy and dance with a little girl of their own, my heart breaks a little. I guess I really don’t believe anymore that I will be part of that picture.

I don’t want to be the reason that a man doesn’t fulfill his dreams. Nor do I want to be desired or loved for my supposed fertility. Where does it leave me if we marry and it turns out that we don’t have children? How do I live with the idea of disappointing him in his most fundamental desire to have a child? Will he love me for me, with or without children?

Forty, single and childless. Sometimes it feels like I haven’t lived, that I’m still a little girl waiting for life to happen. At other times I feel like the excitement of life is in the past, that my opportunities have passed.

But that isn’t reality. We’ve been lied to; we’ve been convinced that all happiness is found only through having a traditional family.

Not so!

Life is full of variety. There isn’t a set timeline and way life is supposed to happen.

 

Biblical women

The women of the Bible remind me of this truth. Sarah and Elizabeth were thought to be past the age of child bearing. Deborah was a mighty leader as a judge. Esther was a humble queen.

And Mary, Our Blessed Mother, certainly does not fit the plastic mold of the world’s ideas of womanhood. To be honest, I get jealous of Mary at times, being blessed to be a young mother. Then she reminds me that it wasn’t all diapers and birthday parties.

Far from it.

But she, and the other Biblical women, remind me that God has unique plans for us, and that His ways are far above our ways. Maybe His way includes me being a mother or step-mother someday. Or maybe He is fulfilling that through my former students and my godchildren and nieces. Maybe He has a whole new more glorious plan in mind. With God all things are possible.

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36 Comments

  1. Veronica-56352 October 7, 2011

    Thank you for your uplifting story! You are right, God has a plan for all of us, whether it is being there for other peoples children or just praying for all the children of the world! You are a wonderful creation of God! I have no doubt that you make a difference to many children in this world! Keep praying!God bless you! Veronica

  2. Mary-363093 October 7, 2011

    Wonderful article, Dawn. Reminder that we can’t expect or count on our life to follow a certain path – HIS plan unfolds and we need to trust that and live fully in the moments He provides us. There are usually several ways to arrive at the same destination – if we leave our minds and hearts open.

    • Dawn-58330 October 8, 2011

      Mary, I love the idea of several ways to arrive at a destination. It does seem that I find the most creative ways to get to points! That’s okay; I like traveling.

  3. Mary-25961 October 7, 2011

    Dawn, if only everyone could not only read the words of the article but read with their hearts, to see that being single without children is not as devastating as they think. Just as God has blessed you with the understanding, that although you have not bore children in your womb, you have bore them in your heart, your actions but most importantly in your prayers. This is a fulfillment not only for you but also for the child that you are helping, whether they realize at the moment or years later when they are an adult and truly appreciate your actions. I have found that I have a lot of love to give to children, so although I have none of my own, I try to pour this love out to children who need that extra hug, word of encouragement or just being present to the moment for them. May not only the women but the men realize that although we may not have children, there are many children who truly need someone to give them the little extra that their parents either may not be able to give them or are incapable, due to their own nature and the circumstances they were raised.

    • Dawn-58330 October 8, 2011

      Wonderful comments, Mary. Thank you for sharing them!

  4. John-49562 October 8, 2011

    I loved this blog, Dawn. Sad and uplifting at the same time. Some of the stories you related remind me of a couple that happened to me.

    I was a volunteer in the pediatrics ward at the hospital of our community. A little girl had to be taken for xrays and one of the nurses asked if I’d take her to that department. She was only about two years old, so I carried her to the elevator, and when I got on the elevator, a middle aged woman looked at us, realized I was a volunteer, and not the girl’s dad, and remarked that I would make a good dad one day. That stuck with me.

    Thank you for that your very moving story, Dawn. You are a very wonderful person, and I know God has something very special planned for you one day!

    Keep the Faith!

    John

    • Dawn-58330 October 8, 2011

      Thank you, John, for the encouragement. I can very much picture your account from the pediatric ward. Another reminder that often we are called to “carry” someone else’s child for a time. I know that has been the case in my life.

  5. Christy-365748 October 8, 2011

    Beautiful, Dawn! I just began a blog today and wrote about being childless at this age. Was it where I thought I would be – No. However, the blessings of nieces and nephews along with children daily in the classroom have brought me light and joy. Thank you so much for sharing such an important story!

    • Dawn-58330 October 8, 2011

      Hi, Christy! How interesting that we wrote about the same topic. Light and job in life come from so many sources, all of them from Above.

  6. Angela-11187 October 8, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Dawn. I can totally understand wondering about how you will be loved by a man, and wondering whether he will still love you when you are no longer able to have children. At 33, I am tired of being approached by older men wanting to have children, and not really caring to get to know the inner me. Men’s delight, or disappointment, in women on this site seems at times to be closely tied to a woman’s potential fertility.

    I also understand feeling like you have missed your calling. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember, but I know in my heart that God has a plan for us all, we only have to listen to His voice.

    God bless!

    • Dawn-58330 October 8, 2011

      God bless you, Angela. It’s not so much that I feel I have missed my calling, but perhaps that I have not understood until recently how creative God is in carrying that out through me. Or that, if I mess it up with my own failings, He has ways to still accomplish things through me. I think the key is putting God’s dream above my own.

  7. Careese-449851 October 8, 2011

    I just know God has good things in store for you Dawn, and all of us! Thank you for sharing your heart, because what you are feeling is what all of us are feeling.

  8. Patricia-755756 October 8, 2011

    Dawn, what you have said here mirrors my feelings exactly. I am 44, single & childless. I had always dreamed of having a baby of my own; experiencing pregnancy & motherhood. I have often felt left out and jealous of my sisters & friends who have been lucky enough to be blessed with the experience of motherhood. Ever since I was a child I only had 1 dream of being a wife & mother, yet God has not blessed me yet. I am surrounded by many children in my life. I have 7 nephews & 8 nieces whom I love & adore. My best friend has 7 of them. I know God has had other plans for me. If I had had my own family, I would not have been able to be there for my best friend when she lost one of her children (my Goddaughter) to cancer 12 years ago. God does work in ways we may not always understand. It may be tough for us to understand why God chooses to direct our lives in certain ways, but we must have the faith that he knows best. I also have the same thoughts as you when I read a gentleman’s profile and sometimes pass over a profile because of his dreams of having children. It disappoints me knowing that as the years go by, as women, we lose that dream, yet men are lucky enough to always have that option. It somehow doesn’t seem fair and makes me wonder why God chose to do that. I guess we ill never know that answer until we get to heaven and can ask him. I’m sorry for this long comment, but as you can tell your words really touched me. Patti

  9. Abbey-104305 October 8, 2011

    I can truly relate. Thank you so very much.

  10. Patrick-606389 October 8, 2011

    hugs on the job loss — it is a painful foundation tottering experience when your older — like a vacuum tube draining purpose and meaning right out of you — especially when single. That said . . . smile.

    Ohhhh Foooweeee . . . Want to know what the chances are of having children — see a doctor. Good grief woman — you are young. nad if you discover that you can’t have children because of him or you — then so be it. He’s your husband and as a man of faith he knows he’s not marrying his car — that he can trade in. He’s marrying that part of himself which he most desperately hungers, longs, yearns, and needs — his better half — his other self. That which God had removed from ages past and is now returning unto him so as to make him whole —- for better or worse and not having children is not a worse — it just not having children. he enters you eyes wide open — and you him eyes wide open ad the two of enter into marriage eyes wide open — as most assuredly you will discuss it. Your his first love, his all in all love second only to Christ — even above himself — that man may mourn with you about not having a child — but he certainly will not blame you — I say that knowing it is possible — but such are the unknowns of human beings in marriage — don’t allow that fear to hinder that in you or him.

    Look, I am old feisty guy, who’s time may have come and gone. And while your ultimate view seems optimistic it is born out of an almost only alternative option — nay I say and nay — God forbid. One can always be childless, mate-less and happy — of course. But goodness woman — get thee a husband and take life on as God has obviously so burdened your heart.

    • Ramona-738757 October 8, 2011

      Thank you for sharing! I never get tired of this topic. There are so many women in this predictament, including me. It doesn’t help that by society’s standards this sense of longing is usually crippled by those who don’t see motherhood as a vocation. Not all women fit into the same category as what is portrayed as embracing are feminine attributes in today’s world. I think of religious who willing give up this aspect of being a woman. And, although I don’t live in community, I do have my sisters in Christ.
      I feel it is important to realize that not every woman is called to motherhood and some are called late in life. The only comfort I have is knowing that my journey is not my own. No one wishes to be loved for what there body can or cannot give. For women it is not the outcome of this desire but, the journey itself. If this pain I feel is somehow going to make me a better person in the eyes of God. Then, “Thy will be done.”
      I wish you fulfillment on your journey. Peace.

  11. Maria-689654 October 8, 2011

    Hi Dawn,
    God bless you for influencing hundreds even thousands of young lives! I feel the sadness of your life story. I can empathize with you still not finding a husband, though I got married once; he was not there for me and my child. It is very loely and empty raising a child alone. Nobody to share the joys and sorrows.
    I can only share those that I have experienced firsthand and those of friends. I had an only child for fifteen years and then I had a son at forty years old; and what a blessing! As long as you are open to life; God knows your heart’s desire to be a mother. “His ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts”. You know this well by this post. Family and friends have experience the same pain and anxiety. They tried their best and they let God “take over” and do the rest. Some of them took the advice of fertility experts and were able to have pregnancies without in vitro fertilization and many of them went and adopted wonderful children. This is just my humble way of sharing with you.

  12. Jessica-556183 October 8, 2011

    Thanks for posting this topic. It’s great to hear from others who feel the same way. It helps to not feel so alone.

  13. Jim-397948 October 9, 2011

    I will keep you in my prayers…I still hope God answers paryers in 2011??

  14. Mari-611004 October 9, 2011

    Hi Dawn, you’re not alone. I’m also pushing forty, and the pressure is there.

    But who knows what God has in store for us!

    Take care & God bless

  15. Maggie-98581 October 10, 2011

    Hello! Dawn thanks for sharing such an inspiring blog with us. I will be forty in a year’s time too but after all age is only numbers when you think of it :D. Most of us when we reach this age bracket had one time or the other felt apprehension of not having fulfilled the greatest role of a woman to bear a child. Me too, love children as well and you can say I am so good with them too. They warm-up to me easily for some reason that I don’t know. That is maybe the blessing we have for not having one of our own. Singles are blessed with a capacity to love beyond our own family circle. While we are single let us sow love in the people we meet, people that God leads us to, to love. And until God answers the longing of our hearts we will always know we are where we are supposed to be, we are all called to love. God bless you Dawn and let us pray for each other.

  16. David-202563 October 10, 2011

    To a remarkable woman! I know that being around kids for so long and then all of a sudden, still single and no kids. can be a downer, I like the way you make it a positive. One thing is that as much as someone may love kids and want to be a mother or father, God has plans for all of us! Maybe some people are not meant to be parents, that doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with that person, it is God wants us to serve our him and our fellow man in a different way! You are a remarkable woman Dawn, Keep the Faith alive and God Bless You now and Forever!

  17. Angela-101566 October 10, 2011

    Your story sounds so familiar. I’ve lived that. I know everyone else’s children but my own. I call my piano students “my kids”. I take my friends kids to soccer and gymnastics and diving and daycare. I’ve expected to be helping my kids pick a university by this time. And here I am still childless. It’s an ache sometimes. And for the past year, I’ve been slowly giving up the hope for a traditional family. I’ve been having different dreams of my future. And I hope that one day, I’ll find a new dream that will be just as happy and fulfilling. I’m sure God’s up there, holding up neon signs, trying to point me in the right direction. Guess I’m spiritually near-sighted too.

  18. Elizabeth-753085 October 11, 2011

    May the Lord bless you!

  19. Stephanie-774076 October 11, 2011

    Thanks for sharing, you are not alone.

  20. Pearly-747131 October 11, 2011

    Dear Dawn, Thank you for sharing your story. I could relate to it so much. In fact at times it felt like I was reading my own story! Eventhough I belive God has a plan for me, at times I cant help but asking him why? But your story and all the comments are positive and uplifting.Thank you all!

  21. Susan-775382 October 12, 2011

    One of the most wonderful stories I’ve ever read. Thank you..

  22. Carol-307996 October 15, 2011

    Thanks for sharing Dawn. I too have had many of your same experiences and as I approach my 45th birthday on Monday wonder how the dream of children and family seemed so strong in my heart when it hasn’t come to pass. About 4 or 5 years ago a friend told me to look around and see all of the children God had brought into my life and how important I was to them-she included her children in that mix. She said “Carol, God knew these kids would need you and He also knew you wouldn’t have time for all of them if you had had your own children.” I still think of that comment often and I still wonder what the plan is from here? I hope to meet someone to share my life with and I hope that he is okay with the idea that I’m not having children. If he has kids great but if not I also hope that he is open to other alternatives for having children in our life. Again, Dawn, thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only one out there feeling like this.

  23. Vicente-771587 October 15, 2011

    Thank You Veronica. As a Young Man who has read your Story all I have to say is the Following : Your Hard Work and Patience made other Dreams come true. Making a difference is rewarding in its own way. Now let’s go back to Our BIBLE and read about How Samson was born from an Elderly Women and yet he became one of the Heroes for his people at that time. You still have the ability to have a child biological or not. Just keep asking GOD for what you NEED not what you WANT. With such potential in your life he will send you what you NEED in this coming YEAR. What ever you do don’t fall asleep when the BLESSING comes along he will give you Notice and Clues in Your Dreams. Keep up the Good Work. Stay Strong in Faith!! Rejoice Every Day! Because soon you will be a Mother. GOD SPEED!!!

  24. Laura-775703 October 21, 2011

    Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed the last part of your article about biblical women and how God has a unique plan for all of us ladies.

  25. John-599355 October 24, 2011

    you may not be able to have children but you can have a loving husband who will wrap his arms around you and tell you how much he loves you,not a bad deal that.love,johnny

  26. Mary-188515 July 7, 2013

    Wow, you just wrote my story. I’m 40, single , childless, and a teacher. I never thought I’d be in this position. Thanks for sharing! Now I know I’m not the only one.

  27. Traci-459462 July 9, 2013

    I can totally relate! I am 45 single, childless and a teacher too. I have to remind myself that God has a plan for me. I just wish he would let me in on what it is so that I can make sure I am on the right path.

  28. Claudia-318157 July 9, 2013

    What could i say?. i `m 45, single and childless too. But i meet a man in another catholic site who does not want more childrens because he has 2 kids of his first marriage… that marriage was anulled. I didn`t see any problem with no chlids beasue i`m not ayoung woma andi `d runa big risk having child. However…..after several months of relationship he said to me. “Sorry…. I`m so unstable… i can`t have a relationship wih u”. I`m so surprised and hurted at time…… well… i`m paying a big price for my mistake….I`m prayong to god who can heal my heart and give to me a new dream, a new expectation…….I hope to have best luck next time….

  29. Claudia-318157 July 9, 2013

    Unstable man?…… Watch out….

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